The Oakland Raiders and the Miami Dolphins have each clinched playoff berths in a wild AFC chase this season for the first time in years.
For the Raiders (12-3), this will be their first playoff appearance since 2002, the year they went to the Super Bowl and lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Raiders have enjoyed one of the better seasons in their stories history and have been the true surprise of the NFL this season with many close wins, fueled by comebacks led by third-year quarterback Derek Carr who HAD been enjoying an MVP- type year. Key word: HAD. Last week, Carr broke his fibula after being tackled and is considered to be out indefinitely by coach Jack Del Rio, which means he will have to miss this playoff run.
Enter backup QB Matt McGloin, the former Penn State signal- caller who helped secure the Raiders win last week versus the Indianapolis Colts 33-25, going 2-3 for 29 yards. With Carr out for the foreseeable future, it will be up to McGloin to fill some big shoes left by Carr this season.
McGloin will certainly be aided by a tough Raiders ground game led by running back Latavius Murray who has 777 yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Not to be outdone, this backfield also features DeAndre Washington who has come on as of late, rushing for 480 yards and two scores.
Wide Receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper provide McGloin with a legitimate 1-2 punch that will make this transition easier for him, both have produced great seasons.
What will ultimately be the Raiders X-Factor is their defense, who have adopted a bend-don’t-break philosophy this season, letting up a lot of yardage but stopping offenses when it matters most in crunch time. This talented defense will have to tighten up for entire games to give the Raiders a real shot at advancing through the playoffs.
Overall, McGloin played in many big games at Penn State and was a four year player, so he should be ready to take the reigns and manage this offense as much as they need him to. With a possible first round bye, he will have the next two weeks to get very comfortable and confident with this offense.
For the Dolphins (10-5), they lost their starting QB Ryan Tannehill two weeks ago to a torn acl, but unlike the Raiders, they have an experienced backup in Matt Moore who led them to an impressive win last week versus the Buffalo Bills 34-31 in OT.
Moore went 16-30 for 233 yards and two touchdown passes and has taken a pretty good command of the offense. He will heavily rely on breakout running back Jay Ajayi who has rushed for 1213 yards this year and eight scores on the ground.
Wide Receiver Jarvis Landry will need to continue his big season and be even more of a top target for Moore, who will likely be targeting him a lot.
Much like the Raiders, the defense will have to step it up big time for this team to have a chance to have a good playoff run. This season they rank 30th in total defense and rushing defense which doesn’t bode well for them in terms playoffs where rushing attacks normally come to life for teams with the cold weather playing a factor.
Overall, the Dolphins are in good shape offensive even with Moore as the starter who many fans in Miami would rather start over Tannehill anyway. Defensively, they need to come together this last week in the regular season because they will likely have to play in the wildcard round.
I see the Raiders as having a better chance to do some damage in the playoffs out of the two.
Which team do you think will fare better in the playoffs with their backup QB? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.